Friday, March 16, 2012

Q&A with author Rochelle Staab

Q.  What inspires your writing?

A.  Characters inspire me. When I sit at my computer and get inside their heads, the hours fly by. I always begin writing new stories in my Mind For Murder series by building a profile of the villain. The coincidences and twists of fate that can change a life fascinate me. How does a good person go bad? How will my central characters react when faced with evil? Writing mystery allows me to explore both sides of human behavior—I plot a crime and then I set my characters on a journey to solve it. The process fascinates me.

Q.  What is your favorite thing about being an author?

A.  My favorite part of the writing process is watching the story come together, figuring out how the pieces fit. A thrill comes when the characters take on a life of their own and show me who they are. They come alive, with separate personalities, traits, and flaws. It’s quite interesting. My other joy comes from readers and booksellers. The letters and comments I receive from people who “get” the story and characters are so much fun. Finally, I adore doing onsite research for my stories. I meet the most helpful people. Here’s a secret: people will tell an author anything!

Q.  What is the toughest part of being an author?

A.  Did you ever say something to someone then walk away thinking, “oh, I should have said…” Writers do that all day long. Coming up with the right word in the right place, structuring sentences, creating flow. Step by step, the process can be grueling, like planting and landscaping a forest tree by tree. Patience helps a lot. Ignoring the inner critic is a must. The results are worth the effort. I’ll go back a few days later to read a difficult section, and—wow!—it worked! How did that happen?

Q.  If you could not be author, what would you do/be?

A. Queen. No? Okay, an NFL analyst on ESPN. No? Then most definitely a rabid mystery reader, spending my days absorbed in every amazing book on my list from classics to new authors. I’d write a blog. I’d hang out in bookstores and libraries. I would sit in the yard or by the fire, escaping into imaginary, cleverly plotted stories.

Q.  What would the story of your life be entitled?

A.  Dancing With The Man In The Chair. Here’s why: The phrase has to do with living life on your own terms instead of dancing around coaxing or pleasing someone else. Ignoring the people who tell you “no”. Going after your own dreams, not the dreams others think you should have. Taking responsibility. Being willing to fail, and willing to succeed.

Q.  What is your favorite book of all time?

A.  Oh, that’s a very tough question. I could rebel and say “any encyclopedia” because I adore feeding my curiosity. When I discovered fiction, I became addicted to series early on. My first series addiction was Nancy Drew, second was Sherlock Holmes, third was the P.G. Wodehouse “Jeeves” series that I loved so much I travelled to London to complete my collection. I fall in love with books and authors in spurts. I spent a summer reading noir. Another summer of Chandler and Hammett. A few years with Elizabeth Peters’ Amelia Peabody series. I adored Lesley Kagen’s “Whistling in the Dark” and “Good Graces”. Lesley is a brilliant writer, and both of those novels are set in the era and neighborhood where I grew up. But my favorite book of all time has to be “Who Do, Voodoo?” because my first novel is my pride and joy. My baby.

Q.  Which part of your book(s) was the easiest to write?

A.  I have a good time writing dialog. Great conversations that are telling, playful, or both. A good tease is great fun. So is a good flirt.

Q.  Which part of your book(s) was the hardest to write?

A. Danger. Danger has to be written in layers, each rewrite a little more menacing, and each level a little darker. I have a hard time putting characters I like/love into life-threatening situations.

Q.  Which character from any book are you most like?

A.  I wish I could give you a smashingly urbane answer but the truth is: Nancy Drew. I like good clothes, good friends, a good meal, a good car, and a good mystery. Nancy had guts. She was the role model in my youth. 

Q.  Which character from YOUR book(s) are you most like?

A. Liz Cooper is me—younger and prettier. We dress alike. We joke alike. We flirt alike. We both like sports, but not in a fanatic way. We’re attracted to the same type of men. I’m a little more open-minded about the supernatural than Liz. Nick Garfield feeds my intellectual side.

Q.  What is your favorite season?

A  My favorite season is Autumn. September represents new beginnings for me rather than the end of summer, probably because school began in autumn and I loved school. Change is in the air. The weather is volatile; nature explodes in a stunning show. I like falling in love in the fall.

Q.  Tell me something funny that happened while on a book tour or while promoting your book(s).

A. One of my most unforgettable moments happened pre-publication. I was in the stationery aisle at the CVS in Studio City. I stopped to pick up notepaper on my way home from an early morning workout at the gym dressed in sneakers, sweatshirt, no makeup. A skinny boy-clerk unpacked pens down the aisle from me when my phone rang. The screen read Texas. Texas? I didn’t know anyone from Texas. “Hello?” The call was from a board member of RWA, the Romance Writers of America, congratulating me on the Who Do, Voodoo? nomination for the 2010 Golden Heart Award, RWA’S Award for unpublished novels. I yelped. Maybe squeaked, too. Began to hop in the aisle as she relayed instructions (didn’t hear them) and listened to me gush out ohmygods and thank you’s. I cried. The nomination was a huge vote of confidence for my writing and for Who Do, Voodoo? After I hung up I turned to the skinny, and now very concerned, clerk. “It was good news. I was, my book was, ohmygod I was nominated for a Golden Heart!” I felt like a Miss America finalist. He nodded, cautious and wary of teary, smiling me. I’m sure he thought I was completely insane as I fist-pumped my way to the exit and to my car. Recently Who Do, Voodoo? was nominated for an Agatha Award and for the Eureka!, both nominations for Best First Novel. And believe me, I squealed and wept again when I got the calls.  

Q.  Are you working on something new?

A.  I’m currently writing the third novel in my Mind For Murder Mystery series. My second novel, Bruja Brouhaha, will be out on August 7. In Bruja Brouhaha, psychologist/sleuth Liz Cooper takes a clinic assignment near historic MacArthur Park and becomes involved with murder, mayhem, a missing person, and a Santeria hex.

Q.  Anything you want to say to followers of this blog or those that are just stopping by?

A.  I had a blast visiting Mrs. Mommy. Thank you, Em, for inviting me to share. I thank both you and your readers for supporting authors and bookstores—you rock! Your enthusiastic passion for books feeds our creativity. To the writers visiting today: never give up. Write another page. Give the world a chance to hear your voice. Feel free to contact me through my website: or friend me on Facebook.

Who Do, Voodoo
IndieBound | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Books-A-Million

When Liz Cooper's friend Robin Bloom finds an unusual tarot card tacked to her front door, Liz writes it off as a prank. Robin refuses to ignore the omen—her late husband drew the same card, the three of swords, in a reading the night before he was killed in a car accident. As more cards and darker threats appear, Liz realizes someone very dangerous is upping the ante.

Liz turns to her brother's ex-college roommate, occult expert Nick Garfield. As Nick leads her into the voodoo community to locate the origin of the deck, she can't ignore their attraction to each other. Then a woman is found murdered and Robin becomes the prime suspect. Determined to clear her friend, Liz joins forces with Nick to unravel otherworldly secrets and seek help from beyond—or risk being outwitted by a cunning killer...

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